Category Archives: Recaps

January and February Recaps, Blogger Life Updates, and More!

I can’t believe it’s already March. The year is more than 1/6 over. A lot has happened on my blog and in my offline life.

January Recap

In January, I started/attempted 5 different reading challenges, 3 year-long ones and 2 short-term ones.

The year-long ones included:

  • Diversity Bingo 2017 – This one is pinned at the top of my blog, so y’all probably know about it. The goal is to get a blackout on the bingo board, and since I know I’ll be reading more one book for each square/category, I started adding extra bingo boards to accommodate the repeats. So far every book I’ve read this year has counted for a square, something I’m very happy about and proud of. Here are my boards as of today:

diversity-bingo-2017-updated

diversity-bingo-2017-board-2

  • Read Diverse 2017 hosted by Naz – I forgot to announce this one, but I’ve been doing it since the beginning of the year. This challenge doesn’t have specific prompts like the above, but rather categories of books and posts that count toward the challenge, and you link up reviews, discussion posts, listicles, etc. to earn points. Once you pass certain point milestones, you get a pretty badge. The person with the highest score at the end of each three-month period and at the end of the year gets a special prize. My badges are on display in the footer of my blog in a slideshow, but here they are side-by-side. 🙂
  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – Last year I read a total of 180 books, with 120 being first-time reads and the other 60 being rereads. This year I set a goal of 200 books. Because of life stuff and a reading slump, I’m currently on book #18 and 17 book behind, r.i.p. However, since The Hate U Give pulled me out of my slump, I may be able to catch up within the next month or two.

The short-term reading challenges were:

  • Dumbledore’s Army Readathon – There were 7 prompts based on Harry Potter spells. I finished 4 out of the 7 books and reviewed 3 of them. The review of the 4th is still pending. The remaining 3 books are still on my TBR. You can find the reviews linked in the reading challenge announcement post above.
  • DiverseAThon – This was a week-long challenge. I picked out 7 books, half of them middle grade, and then only ended up reading 4 out of the 7 during the actual reading challenge period and finished 1 out of the remaining 3 in February. I’ve reviewed 2 out of the books I’ve read (linked in the reading challenge post), the reviews for the other 3 are pending. (Yes, I’m behind on reviewing, sigh.)

In January, I also hosted my first author interview with debut indie author Ishara Deen.

February Recap

My February TBR was themed around Black History Month and includes around 50 titles by Black authors. Because I was still catching up on January reads and went through a book slump, I only read 2 books by Black authors during the month of February. However, I have a bunch of books by Black authors on my shelves waiting to be read still, and uplifting Black voices is a year-round, ongoing commitment, so even though Black History Month is behind us, I’m still reading Black authors throughout the rest of the year, of course. 🙂

Other significant February posts include:

Blogger Life Updates and Some Self-Promo

I got a temp job in late January that was supposed to last a few days, but it got extended multiple times because my employer kept finding new tasks for me to do. I just finished my most recent assignment, so things are quiet and I don’t know if I’ll get anything else from them. I interviewed for a full-time job, but it’s up in the air whether I’ll get the job and if I do, it probably won’t be for a long time because of internal bureaucracy stuff in the company (my older sister works for them). So in the meantime, I’m basically unemployed and financially dependent on my dad, who also just got laid off recently. Although my family’s finances are stable right now, for me personally as an individual, I’m kind of floating out at sea and trying to do more to become financially independent and self-sustaining. If you like my content and have the means, there are a variety of ways you can support my work as a blogger and writer:

Totally optional and I’m definitely still blogging regardless, but since I put so much labor into this blog, it would be nice to get some money out of it. 🙂

I am now offering sensitivity services, with the details on this page. If you could share my link or refer me to anyone looking for a sensitivity reader with my particular area(s) of expertise, that would be awesome!

Some non-monetary ways of supporting me and my blog:

  • Sharing my reviews and posts.
  • Recommending my blog to other people.
  • Commenting on my posts with thoughts and reactions. I love hearing feedback from blog followers. 🙂
  • Connecting me with diverse indie/self-pubbed authors who need a boost for their upcoming book and/or are looking for someone to do an ARC review.

Social Media

In case you missed my pic spam on Twitter, I recently started Bookstagramming. You can find me here.

If you want to follow what I’m reading as I read it, with live updates and flailing and all, you can add me on Goodreads. (Just note that I’m a very generous person with ratings, so if you want a clearer picture of what a book is like you are definitely better off reading my reviews here than looking at my ratings on Goodreads, which are very one-dimensional ways of evaluating a book.)

Sneak Peeks at What’s Ahead

  • Aside from the stuff I’m already doing, I have more new projects planned.As I mentioned on Twitter a while ago, I have some educational posts about social justice in the works. I’ll post an announcement with details once I figure out how I want to schedule and approach this series.
  • I’m planning to host my own reading challenge in May for Asian American Heritage Month to showcase the diversity and intersectional experiences within Asian lit. For the purpose of this challenge…
    • I’m looking for co-hosts, and the only qualifications are that you be 1) Asian (includes all of Asia, not just East Asia, of course, and you can be living in Asia or part of diaspora, either one is fine) and 2) active in the book community. Your role as a co-host will involve brainstorming the categories for the challenge and generating a list of books that correspond to those categories, promoting the challenge on your blog/book promo platforms (including social media such as Twitter and Instagram), and helping host one or more Twitter hashtag events/discussions during the month of May.
    • I’m also looking for a graphics designer to do the bingo board associated with the challenge. This is open to anyone. Said designer will be compensated for their labor with their choice of a 2017 English-language release that is by an Asian author. It can be from any genre (e.g. lit fic, fantasy, contemporary) and target age (MG, YA, NA, adult, etc.) you want. It doesn’t have to be #ownvoices, so for example, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao counts, and so does Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.
    • If you are interested in co-hosting or doing the graphics for this challenge, you can drop me a message via my Contact form.
    • Even if you can’t help in the development stages of this reading challenge, it would be great if you could participate and spread the word about it when the time comes. There are prizes involved! 😉

My 2016 in Review and 2017 Bookish Resolutions

So, a lot happened in 2016.

332807In May, I decided to start this blog to review the Asian lit I read and posted my very first blog post on the first book featuring a Taiwanese American character that I’d ever read, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen.

Then, in November, I made the first real step toward posting regulardiversity december bingo updated.pngly and averaged about one review per day since late November, totaling 35 reviewing as of yesterday.

Starting on December 1st, I participated in my first reading challenge, #DiversityDecBingo. The goal was to get one row of 5 books, but I was aiming for a complete blackout. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite reach that goal, with 3 books unfinished (I’d started and gotten a third of the way through of 2 of them). Even so, I’m proud of how far I got.

I did my first book tag, the Diverse Books Tag.

I hunder-a-painted-sky-paperbackosted my first giveaway, for Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky. It was part of an author spotlight, and you can read the spotlight post here.

I broke 20 followers on my blog and 150 Twitter followers after about a month of activity.

I made commitments to two different reading challenges for 2017, the #DAReadathon and #DiversityBingo2017, researching over 150 books to put together a suggestions list for the latter.

Now, for the 2017 resolutions!

  1. Diversify my reading even more! I started out focusing on Asian lit and that’s still the primary focus of my blog, but there are so many other amazing diverse books out there. Some specifics:
    • I’m prioritizing #ownvoices books. I’ve already been doing that for the most part, so I’m renewing and strengthening my commitment.
    • I want to read more books with/by Black, Latinx, and Indigenous characters/authors.
      • By indigenous, I don’t just mean Native American, I mean indigenous peoples all over the world. In particular, I’m interested in reading books by/about Taiwan’s indigenous people and Pacific Islanders (the two are actually related, ethnically and linguistically).
    • I want to read more Asian lit by Southeast Asian authors, as there are a lot of them who publish English-language lit in their regional market but don’t get much attention in the U.S. Thankfully, the Internet exists, and I’ve been following more SEA authors on Twitter so I can be more in the loop about publishing news in SEA.
    • I want to read more books with/by disabled characters/authors. I’m disabled myself (I have two-ish mental illnesses), and I want to read about the many disabilities that are out there that differ from my own.
    • I want to read more LGBTQ+ books. Because queer Asian lit is hard to come by, especially #ownvoices, and queer lit is very white as a whole, I kind of neglected queer lit for a while. Thankfully more books are coming out that feature queer Asian characters, so it’s not as much of an either/or situation of reading Asian lit vs. queer lit.
    • I want to read more books with/by Jewish characters/authors. I’ve read a decent number of books with Muslim rep because the majority of Muslims are Asian, but not so much Jewish rep. I’ve actually found a number of books featuring Asian Jewish characters, and I’m interested in that intersectionality since people tend to assume all Jewish people are European, which is false.
    • I want read more poetry and comics/graphic novels by marginalized creators. I read mostly prose right now, but as a former poet and a visual artist, I can definitely appreciate other creative media besides prose.
  2. I want to host my own diverse reading challenge/bingo in celebration of Asian American Heritage Month in May. More details to come later. If you are an Asian reader/blogger/booktuber who wants to help brainstorm and co-host this challenge, you can DM me on Twitter @theshenners, drop a comment on this post, or send me a message through my blog’s Contact form. I’m also looking for a graphic designer to help design the bingo board, and I will compensate the person with their choice of a 2017 book release with an Asian MC  by an Asian author in their preferred format. If you know anyone who might be interested, send them my way!
    • Note: The US government refers to it as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. However, the lumping in of Asian Americans with Pacific Islanders (aka Pasifika/Pacifica people) is problematic because it erases the fact that Asian people are complicit in settler colonialism against Pasifika people. For this reason, I keeping this reading challenge to Asian lit. If anyone who is Pasifika wants to host a separate/parallel reading challenge for Pasifika lit, that would be awesome and I will totally boost/support it and participate.
  3. I want to reduce and clear out my backlist of TBR books from 2015 and 2016. Hopefully I can accomplish that through some of my reading challenges by matching books with a reading challenge prompt. 🙂
  4. I want to participate in mini reading challenges corresponding to the various history/heritage and awareness months/weeks such as Black History Month, Transgender Awareness Week, etc.
  5. I have two other year-long reading challenges that I’m eyeing with interest. Hopefully I can juggle all of these reading challenges.
  6. I want to post regular Asian author spotlights. I’ll probably pair them with giveaways like I did with my Stacey Lee author spotlight.
  7. I want to review books right after finishing them. I started my diverse book reading quest in 2015 but didn’t think to review the books I read until last year, so I have an enormous backlog of books I’ve read but haven’t reviewed. At this point I’ll probably have to reread some of them so I can write a more thorough review.
  8. With all of the above points in mind, I also want to make sure that I’m not stressing myself out too much trying to reach various goals. I read because I love to immerse myself in stories, and turning it into an assignment-like deal can be draining. So even if I don’t reach all of my goals, I hope to enjoy myself as much as possible. 🙂

Thanks to everyone who welcomed me into the book community in 2016. Hope to share my bookish adventures with y’all in 2017!